Chinese reprocessing plant to start up in 2030

24 September 2015

The construction of a used fuel processing and recycling facility in China is expected to begin in 2020 and be completed by 2030. The facility will be based on French technology.

China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) and France's Areva signed an agreement in November 2007 to assess the feasibility of setting up an 800 tonne per year reprocessing plant for used fuel in China. The plant would be operated by Areva.

In November 2010, an industrial agreement on the project was signed, while in April 2013 a further agreement was signed setting out the technical specifications for the plant. Then in March 2014 another agreement was signed to continue planning the project and to complete the business case for it. A memorandum of understanding followed, in June this year,  which Areva said "formalizes the end of technical discussions, defines the schedule for commercial negotiations and confirms the willingness of both groups to finalize the negotiations in the shortest possible timeframe." The target date for operation of the plant was previously 2025.

At the first meeting of the Sino-French project group, held yesterday in Beijing, CNNC said that it is selecting a site for the facility. Jinta county, north of Jiayuguan in Gansu province, had earlier been touted as a potential site for the complex, which will reportedly occupy three square kilometres.

CNNC said yesterday that construction of the reprocessing facility is now expected to start in 2020 and be completed in 2030.

In addition to the reprocessing plant, the site will also house a used fuel storage facility with the capacity to hold 3000 tonnes of fuel. In addition, a high-level liquid waste vitrification facility is also planned.

Once in operation, the new complex will relieve pressure on the on-site storage of used fuel at nuclear power plants and improve the safety of used fuel management, CNNC said.

According to a report by the Xinhua news agency, some 23,500 tonnes of used fuel will have been generated from China's pressurized water reactors (PWRS) by 2030.

Technology for recycling uranium recovered from used nuclear fuel from Chinese PWRs for use in the Qinshan Phase III Candu units is being developed.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News